Review of THE PAINTING!!!

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This small little animated film was released in France back in 2011.  Now, this english-language version of the film is making its rounds at art houses around the country.  I actually didn’t know anything about this film when I sat down with my daughter to watch the screener.  I didn’t really know what to expect.

This is a fantasy that takes place inside paintings.  Similar to TOY STORY, once the artist is away, the characters in the paintings come to life and interact with each other.  Inside one painting in particular, there has been conflict.  That’s because there are 3 different types of people: “All Dones” are completely finished characters and are considered to be upperclass, “Halfsies” aren’t fully completed and live separate from All Dones.  And then there are the “Sketchies”, creatures that are crudely drawn and aren’t colored at all.  They are the most feared and hated by the All Dones and Halfsies.  Things are turned upside down when a halfsie and an all done fall in love with each other.  Another halfsie named Clare is a mutual friend and tries to help them be together.  Their journey takes them outside of the painting, where they discover that there are other paintings sitting around the artist’s studio.  They jump from painting to painting, searching for their creator so that he can finish their painting, which will hopefully bring peace to their world.

Not an entirely new premise, but it certainly feels fresh.  It’s a very bold movie.  I definitely have to give a film props for bringing important and serious issues into a family film.  This is certainly a movie to watch with your kids to talk about equality.  And it’s also very beautiful not to mention entertaining.

The animation is certainly a welcome break from the perfectly pristine look of modern computer animation.  This movie models its look on the paintings from hundreds of years ago.  It’s a visual feast for the eyes.  And once they get out of the painting, they do a great job mixing animation and live action.  This feels like a real dream come to life.

The film’s weak point would have to be the characters.  None of them are bad, but I would say they’re a bit generic.  The two romantic leads a kind of bland.  Clare has some spunk, but she reminded me of Dora the Explorer (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).  I did like the “All Done” bad guy who was made up to look like a famous clown, and  the 2 sketchies, who turn out to be not so bad after all.

The reason to watch this is to marvel at the animation, and to enjoy the story.  I would say take your kids to this movie.  It’s a bit intense at times, especially when one of the sketchies is brutally beaten to a pulp, but so was family fare like SECRET OF NIMH.  What I liked about this was that it doesn’t dumb things down for the kids.  It seems to happen a lot more often these days, but most animated films feel the need to load up on annoying characters to make kids laugh.  Kids are smarter than that, and this movie treats them with respect.  My 9 year old responded very well to this movie, and afterwards had a great discussion about it.

If you love fantasy, animation, fine art, and morality tales….. well, then you need to get your butt to a theater that is showing THE PAINTING.  It’s a wonderful, imaginative, and a one-of-a-kind experience.  This would also be a great film to show kids, to let them know that there’s more to films than just loud characters and fart jokes.  It’s easily the best animated film out in theaters, currently.  ★★★ (out of ★★★★)

- Not rated.  Contains thematic elements, some peril, an intense scene of brutality, and “fine art” nudity.  MPAA would probably rate it PG13, but I still think it’s okay for most kids who have mature parents.

- Running time: 1hr 19min.

 

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Categories: Austin Kennedy, Reviews

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